Against the Schema of 'Democratic Dictatorship'

-Workers' Socialist Party/ 13.4.2013

This article, being published on the 96th Anniversary of the “April Thesis”, is the last one in the series of six articles, that is published by WSP against the documents presented by a splinter of old CLI, a Stalinist-Maoist group under the name of ‘Praxis Collective’. ‘Praxis Collective’ is one, among the innumerable banners, e.g. ‘Ahwan’, ‘Disha Chhatra Sangathan’, ‘Rahul Foundation’, ‘Kamla Trust’ ‘Arvind Trust’ etc. etc. that are raised by this formless and opportunist splinter group, headed by Shashi Prakash and Abhinav. In earlier five articles, we have already exposed the fallacy of the counter-revolutionary politics preached by this group and its completely farcical slogan of “New Socialist Revolution”. Here we expose their views, false to the core, on the issue of “democratic Dictatorship”.

Earlier five articles can be accessed through the following web-links:

Part Six
Failing miserably to understand the political essence of the Leninist proposition, “Imperialism is the dawn of world proletarian revolution”, the maoist ‘praxis collective’, in its fantasy, divides the world into two: countries that are mature for proletarian dictatorship and those that are not. Level of capitalist development in individual countries, is for them, the final yardstick, which determines if the proletariat ‘should’ fight for power or not.

Different formations of Stalinists-Maoists, ardent followers of the 'two stage theory' of revolution, continue to debate among themselves as to which country has become ripe for a socialist revolution and thus for the dictatorship of the proletariat and which country has still not completed its democratic stage and thus is not ripe enough to go for the revolution of the second stage-the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletairat. Yesterday, they had consesus, that India was not ripe for socialist revolution as it has yet to complete the democratic stage. Later, few of these, like 'praxis collective' had changed their 'faith', turning to the conclusion that under the regime of Indian bourgeoisie, the core democratic tasks already stand completed and thus the stage is all set for the revolution of second stage. So this 'staging' of the revolution goes country to country and consequently the countries of the world are divided in two categories- those ripe and not ripe for dictatorship of the proletariat. Not surprisingly, every party of the Stalinists-Maoists keeps its own lists calculating the development of capitalism and thus the stage of revolution in different countries of the world, according to its own arithmatic.

In this a-historic and economist thesis of our maoist, there sounds an indisputable echo of Russian Menshevism, which did not sanction dictatorship of the proletariat as a possible prospect of impending Russian revolution. Russia, for them was not sufficiently mature for such dictatorship because of its low level of capitalistic development.

“April Thesis” of Lenin was an explicit refutation to this pedantic thesis of Russian social democracy in general, and Menshevism in particular. Lenin, looking at the Russian revolution from the height of February 1917, contradicted this imaginary linkage between the fight for dictatorship of the proletariat and the level of capitalistic development. ‘April Thesis’ denied that capitalist backwardness of Russia was an impediment to the establishment of dictatorship of the proletariat. On the contrary, it was exactly this backwardness which dictated the historic course that ensured rise of the Russian proletariat to power in October, even before far more capitalistically developed west could stage its ‘October’.

“April Thesis” was directed against two blocs of epigones: One that out-rightly supported the Provisional Government as embodiment of“democratic dictatorship” and the other that argued for establishment of“democratic dictatorship”, as a separate stage before socialist dictatorship. Both camps counter-posed ‘democratic dictatorship’ to the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat.

April Thesis was a “re-arming” of the Bolshevik party by Lenin, against these two perceptions of epigones on the question of “democratic Dictatorship”. April thesis, however, has no real importance for the epigones of today. For them it is only a re-statement and continuance of old bolshevism.

Like Stalinists and Maoists of today, the majority of leaders of Russian social-democracy thought, and that till October 1917, that class dictatorship of the proletariat would appear only at the fag end of a ‘democratic revolution’ and only at the start of its second, ‘socialist’ stage.

Long ago, in his seminal work ‘Results and Prospects’published immediately after the uprising of 1905 in Russia, Leon Trotsky had proposed that most probable offshoot of the revolution in Russia would be the appearance of dictatorship of the proletariat, even before the west.

The February revolution of 1917 in Russia, endorsed the thesis of Leon Trotsky, demonstrating it beyond any shade of doubt, that Russian revolution was so intimately bound up with the class dictatorship of the proletariat, that its abortion would directly lead to establishment of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the abortion of revolution itself, leading directly to a counter revolution. February, was a direct denunciation of the‘two stage theory’ of revolution, i.e. democracy today, socialism tomorrow, which Russian social democracy had borrowed from the revolutions of the past in Europe and craved to apply it mechanically to capitalistically belated Russia, in utter disregard of the new historical conditions created by imperialism. Not Lenin’s but Menshevik’s slogan had come to fruition in February, not as consummation of democratic revolution, but as its abortion.

Lenin, the brilliant leader of the Russian revolution, re-visiting the Russian revolution, from higher echelon in February 1917 than in 1905, correctly appreciated that the dictatorship of the proletariat, followed and supported by a peasant mass through partisan war in rural Russia, was the only road to revolution. Lenin realised that the dictatorship of the proletariat was not the final outcome of the revolution, but the necessary pre-condition for its sustenance and advance.

Lenin, thus turned sharply against, and extremely critical of the leaders of Russian social democracy, who adhered to the old and obsolete Bolshevik idea of ‘two class democratic dictatorship- the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry’, a historically unrealizable scheme that proposed to postpone the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat till the consummation of the imaginary first stage, the ‘democratic stage’ of the revolution.

Russian revolution established that the dictatorship of the proletariat appeared on the scene not after the completion of the agrarian democratic revolution but as the necessary pre requisite for its accomplishment.

History of Russian revolution is confirmation of the following postulates, of ‘permanent revolution’:

-Revolutionary process is uninterrupted process and its compartmentalisation in two imaginary stages, is historically false.

-In backward countries, i.e. countries with belated capitalist development, the revolution would open as democratic, only to grow directly to socialist revolution, under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The two revolutions merge into one and cannot be separated in two historic stages.

- Democratic Revolution only opens with the dictatorship of the Proletariat, it does not come to end with it. Under the dictatorship of the Proletariat, it grows over uninterruptedly to socialist revolution.

-Dictatorship of the proletariat appears at the beginning of the democratic revolution and not at its fag end.

-“Democratic Dictatorship” is that very same dictatorship of the socialist proletariat, supported by the multi-million peasantry, through ‘peasant wars’ against thousands of landlords in villages, in backward countries.

-“Democratic Dictatorship” cannot be juxtaposed to the “socialist dictatorship”, in both cases, the dictatorship remains exclusive class dictatorship of the proletariat.

Uninterrupted character of the revolution, lies in this very “dictatorship of the proletariat”, which appears at the start of the revolution and continues throughout all of its episodic stages, irrespective of the fact, which other class supports or opposes this dictatorship.

Contrary to historic course of Russian revolution, Stalinists and Maoists, like ‘Praxis Collective’ argue that February was democratic as opposed to socialist October. In this, they fail to answer:Whether Democratic Revolution (successful war of peasantry against manorial gentry, destruction of medievalism, confiscation of landed estates) was realised before or after October? Was the ‘democratic dictatorship’ realised between “February and April”? How, and in what form? Under the regime of Lvov and Kerensky, Guchkov and Rodchenko?

Lenin called for overturn of the bourgeois government and establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat immediately after February, not because the ‘democratic revolution’ was accomplished in February, but exactly because February failed to carry out the democratic revolution. The democratic revolution was thrown out of the gear with establishment of the bourgeois power under Lvov and then Kerensky.

To be sure, at the start of the February, there did appear an informal dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of armed proletariat organised in soviets. Tsar-ism was deposed and destroyed by this dictatorship in first 4 days of “February” and civil liberties were won. The Petrograd Soviet- the soviet of workers- elected from the factories in Petrograd was the chief organ of this dictatorship of the proletariat.

Then appeared in the rear of the revolution, the bourgeois power, in the shape of the provisional government, that succeeded in applying complete brakes upon it. A dual power- the power of two hostile classes- armed workers’soviets and bourgeois provisional government – thus came to exist shortly, for few days in transition only, until the leaders of Russian Social Democracy-both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks- kneeled before the bourgeois power and appealed to the workers and soldiers to support it. This dual power in February, out of which Stalinists and Maoists make a real fetish, was in fact, illegitimate from revolutionary standpoint, both politically and historically, symbolised only the weakness and powerlessness of the proletariat, and was direct fallout of the political immaturity of its leadership, that failed to lead the proletariat to power. Thus barring the initial few days- when Tsarism was deposed, political prisoners freed, hated officials arrested and liberties achieved, i.e. till provisional government appeared and bourgeois consolidated its power-this dual power in February, was not accomplishment, realisation or consummation of any democratic revolution, but its abortion.

Firing upon the July demonstration, upon orders of the provisional government, that forced the revolution to go underground, decisively proved that February has put the real power in the hands of the bourgeoisie and that the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie was a reality and the dual power a sham.

The weak and impotent, Russian Bourgeois came to power in February, as everywhere in backward countries, not as legitimate representative of the revolution, but due to the flawed policy of epigones of Marxism, who prevented it from claiming power for itself, on the pretext that historic stage was not set yet for appearance of a proletarian dictatorship.

Except those initial few days, when armed proletariat ruled the roost and till Guchkovs and Miliukovs had not fortified their positions, February had turned counter-revolutionary and the democratic revolution could resume only in October, i.e. under the dictatorship of the proletariat.

October Revolution, in its first stages, was itself a‘Democratic Revolution’ and the only genuine democratic revolution. The two tasks-Democratic and Socialist- went hand in hand after October, merged in each other, and the October revolution was the embodiment of the two. October opened as democratic revolution in its first episodic stages which were nothing but prelude to the ‘socialist revolution’. Lenin’s slogan of “democratic dictatorship” was thus realised, albeit not in February but in October, not in letters but in spirit.

Establishment of proletarian dictatorship in Russia, was an offshoot of the rising tide of revolutionary wave and the crisis of the capitalism, the world over. Contrary to the perception of Stalinists, the Russian revolution, revolution in the backward agrarian country even before the West, is live testimony to the fact that the establishment of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, does not depend upon development of capitalism in a country, but upon exact correlation of class forces on a world scale.

Thus, given a favourable correlation of class forces on world scale, above all a leadership armed with a revolutionary program, the dictatorship of the proletariat could have well appeared, in February 1917 in Russia, 1925 in China, 2006 in Nepal and much before 1947 in India. But both Stalinists and Maoists deny this prospect, insisting that the failure of proletariat in seizing the power way back in history and establishing its class dictatorship was not due to their flawed policy of opposition to such dictatorship in the name of ;two stage theory’ of revolution, but due to underdevelopment of capitalism. For them, proletariat must wait in individual countries for achieving a definite level first of capitalistic development, before it could strive for its class dictatorship.

For these pedantic, Stalinists and Maoists, proletariat in backward countries is too weak to take to power by itself and establish its dictatorship. Whole edifice of the ideas of Stalinism and behind it Maoism, emanates from such assumed weakness of the proletariat. To overcome this‘weakness’ of the proletariat, Stalinists summon the bourgeois and petty bourgeois sections, apart from peasantry, to the aid of the proletariat.

“Democratic Dictatorship”, for Stalinists is the ‘joint dictatorship’ that is shared between the proletariat and ‘other’ social classes, above all, the rural peasantry. To this combination, however, they had continued to add, during the last whole century, ever new sections of‘progressive’, ‘nationalist’ bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, suggesting ‘blocs of classes’ and ‘popular fronts’ in the name of fight for ‘democracy’ and struggle against Imperialism, feudalism and fascism. Through these blocs Stalinists and Maoists had continued to bind the working class to the tail of the parties of bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie and have prevented it from taking to seizure of power for itself.

Making a fetish out of the old Bolshevik proposition of ‘two class dictatorship’ of proletariat and peasantry, the slogan that was rendered obsolete by February revolution in Russia, Stalinists and behind them the Maoists, have sought and opportunity to tag the working class to the sections and parties of the bourgeoisie.

An alliance between proletariat and other social classes that support its agenda, now and then, cannot be conceived as a partnership in the dictatorship. Alliance between proletariat and peasantry can be conceived in its varied forms in different countries, but it remains an agreement between the two classes of different social compositions, essentially based upon the pivot of the exclusive dictatorship of the proletariat.

This Alliance between proletariat and peasantry, rests and realises itself in practice, not upon a sharing of joint dictatorship between two classes, as Stalinists and Maoists preach, but in historic compulsion of the peasantry to support the struggle, leadership, domination and ultimately the dictatorship of the proletariat. Under conditions of capitalism, march of history culminates in leaving the only choice with peasantry- crushing and devastation under the yoke of bourgeoisie and landlords or liberation through the struggle and victory of the proletariat. Peasantry is thus forced to throw its weight behind the proletariat, not out of its free will, but as the only wise and viable option, conditioned by history.

Whereas, the rebellious peasantry engaged in partisan war against its enemies, seeks the success of its struggle through victory of the proletariat in key cities, the proletariat in turn derives support from these peasant wars, which create necessary conditions for defeat of the bourgeois regime.

In this sense, the alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry pre-supposes at least existence of a rebellious peasantry, if not a real peasant rebellion, as necessary precondition to a democratic alliance. Proletariat can derive support only from a peasant war and not from its dormancy. The peasant war against landlordism is the lever that would play an important but auxiliary role in the revolution and would catapult proletariat to power.

In order to be successful, however the peasant war has to confide under the leadership and hegemony of the proletariat, growing over into dictatorship of the proletariat after victory of revolution.

No doubt, that in backward countries, the proletariat finds a ready arsenal in the rebellious peasantry and the peasant wars in rural regions. But the prospects of a Peasant war in thousands of villages against hundreds of the landlords, directly depends upon success of proletarian war upon the bourgeois in dozens of cities. If proletariat wins against the bourgeoisie in cities, peasant would win, if proletariat loses, peasant would lose. So in fact, the peasant war is to be fought, not in villages, but in cities.

Refusing to understand this live correlation between the proletariat and peasantry, Stalinists and Maoists both, oppose the very idea of class dictatorship of the proletariat in backward countries, and instead argue for a joint dictatorship, through a bloc of hostile social classes.

Given the standpoint of epigones, the class dictatorship of the proletariat would never appear. To their formulation: at democratic stage it would be shared with whole peasantry, while at socialist stage it would be shared with poor peasantry. In both cases, thus, it would be a ‘joint’dictatorship and not the class dictatorship of the proletariat.

In backward countries, the formulation of two class dictatorship-of proletariat and peasantry- is rendered unrealizable by real course of history. It can be realised only as dictatorship of the proletariat followed by peasantry, inside a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. Epigones on the other hand, block the dictatorship of the proletariat on the ground of its invalidity in democratic revolution. Bourgeoisie thus rises to power, by default-as the only choice to history. This is exactly what happened in February 1917 in Russia, in 1925 in China, 2006 in Nepal and 1947 in India.

Moreover, in agrarian countries, the joint dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry would essentially become the dictatorship of the peasantry as it would out-number the proletariat forthwith, due to its huge numerical superiority.

Necessary consequence of the ridiculous notion of ‘joint’dictatorship, as proposed by Stalinists and Maoists, would be: Proletariat will have to overturn this joint dictatorship itself later, to dislodge and expel the peasantry from this dictatorship, and in order to rise upto the socialist tasks- the establishment of socialist dictatorship. Only this way, through a real mockery of history, the plan of “two stage revolution” can be put to practice. But still, ironically, this assumed socialist dictatorship, so deeply embedded in fantasy of our Stalinists and Maoists, would not be a class dictatorship of the proletariat, but again a joint dictatorship, this time shared between the proletariat and the poor peasantry, according to old Bolshevik formula.

National-Socialist, Stalinist-Maoist, ‘Praxis-Collective’, in its imagination links the development of capitalism in India and so in other backward countries, to automatic resolution of the core democratic tasks, chiefly the agrarian crisis, in essence, leaving only residual democratic tasks for socialist revolution. It credits the rule of Indian bourgeoisie after 1947 with solution of these core tasks. These cheerleaders for the imaginary achievements of the bourgeoisie ignore that development of capitalism, by itself, does not resolve the democratic tasks, but, on the contrary, sharpens and intensifies them to the maximum. Be it the agrarian crisis or the question of caste and nationality, the capitalistic development has aggravated this crisis, instead of resolving it, by bringing it more and more in direct conflict with the rule of bourgeoisie. To be sure, development of capitalism before or after 1947 in India, did not lead to resolution of democratic tasks and contradictions of old society. On the contrary, it blended them with new contradictions leading to their more and more sharpening and intensification. Spiralling peasant suicides on mass scale, and ruthless suppression of Kashmiri and other nationalities at the hands of the Indian bourgeois, are glaring example of this ever deepening crisis, preparing ground for a powerful explosion of proletarian revolution against the bourgeoisie.

Notably, nationalist ‘Praxis Collective’ counts upon this ‘development of capitalism’ in India, from riding of the national bourgeoisie to power in 1947, and thus ignoring its whole development under the rule of foreign capitalism, and the world capitalism as a whole. The fact that ‘Praxis Collective’ ignores, for its nationalist outlook, is that India was already under the rule of capitalists, British capitalists, centuries before 1947.

Destabilised and weakened during the WW-II, Britain was forced by emerging imperialist powers, chief among them, the US- to leave open the frontiers of the colonies under it for common imperialist plunder, putting an end to its monopoly.

In the wake of this new balance of capitalist power after WW-II, Indian Bourgeoisie rode to power in 1947, riding not upon the tide but the ebb of the anti-colonial wave. It was the alliance of bourgeois and landlords that captured power in 1947 in India, an alliance in which bourgeoisie dominated. In that sense it was class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Indian bourgeoisie, like all national bourgeoisie in colonies, was born and nurtured in the incubator of the rule of foreign capital and complete domination of foreign powers. In colonial countries, even before emergence of the national bourgeoisie, foreign capitalists had captured the political power from despotic empires and had forcibly annexed territories under these empires to world capitalism, subjugating their most backward structures to themselves. These territories, as a whole and their economy in particular, was thus already annexed to and thus integrated with world capitalism under the rule of foreign capitalists. For this very reason, Marx had credited British colonialism with a great radical role in history, a proposition which Stalinists fail completely to understand.

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